Google has posted an elaborate blog post on its official blog titled ‘A new approach to China‘. Most people know that Google had compromised its freedom of speech stand to enter the chinese markets in 2005. The blogosphere was abuzz with multiple proofs of Google’s double standards and censorship of search results when it came to the chinese markets.
Google in china has been involved in several controversies over the last 3 years. So much so that there is a wikipedia page dedicated to Google’s troubles in china. But now it seems google has made up its mind to take on the Chinese government. Google elaborates in a blog post stating ‘ We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.’
The above reaction came from Google after it discovered an attack originating from China which got through its security measures and compromised some intellectual property. David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer explained the attack “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.
We have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.”
Given the issue on human rights and also the fact that Google itself was attacked it seems that Google has had enough. The blog post in no uncertain terms makes it clear that Google would not filter any search results even if it means that they need to pull the plug on Google.cn in China.
So will Google’s exit from China cost them a lot?
Well not exactly. I mean reports suggest that Google was anyway fighting a losing battle in China. Last year financial reports suggest that Google infact lost market share to China based Baidu which is their largest search engine. Baidu’s market share for search in China was about 77% in the third quarter 2009, up from 75.6% in the second quarter while Google lost share in China, dropping to 17% in the third quarter, from about 19% in the second quarter. This surely suggests that Google was anyways not going from strength to strength in China.
All in all it does seem likely that if Google refuses to buckle under the censorship pressure then its exit might be confirmed from Chinese markets. If not an exit it may be possible that its existence might be marginalized. Lets see how this battle fares in the days to come.